Is Stearic Acid Vegan? What Is Stearic Acid Made Of?

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: September 2022.
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Stearic acid is a skin-softening and smoothing active ingredient. It is naturally found in many different foods. For industrial use, stearic acid could be made of animal fats or plant oils. It could also be produced synthetically. Therefore, stearic acid can be both, vegan and non-vegan.

Now let’s dive into it and learn more about this ingredient’s features, benefits, and what it is made of.

What Is Stearic Acid? What Is Stearic Acid Made Of?

Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid with an 18-carbon backbone. It is mainly used to reduce the viscosity of products. It is found in fatty foods, including animal-based as well as fatty vegetables.

The compound is one of the most important fatty acids that the human body needs. It can be ingested through food, but the body produces it also itself. Its tasks and effects include building cell membranes, supporting the body’s own protective mechanism, and creating energy reserves. 

Furthermore, it plays a crucial role in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Last but not least, it also contributes to a healthy appearance of skin, hair, and nails.

As already mentioned, stearic acid is naturally found in almost every fatty food, but mostly in animal by-products. Plant foods also contain stearic acid but to a lesser extent.

For industrial use, stearic acid could be made of animal fats like pigs’ stomachs. It could also be obtained from cocoa butter and palm oil. Or it could be produced synthetically. 

Why Is Stearic Acid Used In Skincare?

The nourishing stearic acid is used in skincare because it has a moisturizing effect. It also protects the skin from environmental stress and therefore has an anti-aging feature.

Stearic acid is an emollient, meaning it softens and smoothes the skin. Unlike other emollients, stearic acid is unique as it also acts like a surfactant. The ingredient also helps to cleanse the skin. That is why it is found in cleansers.

Further, stearic acid also forms a skin barrier. Due to the natural fatty acid content, it repairs the disturbed skin. Therefore, the skin can retain moisture better and reduce water loss. So, stearic acid keeps the skin healthy as dehydrated skin leads to dry patches, irritated skin, and skin peeling.

The substance is also used as a consistency and stability agent. It increases the viscosity of skin care products and makes them more applicable. Depending on its concentration, manufacturers can achieve heavy, thick, or light formulations.

FAQ About Stearic Acid

What is stearic acid?

Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid with an 18-carbon backbone. The compound is one of the most important fatty acids that the human body needs. It can be ingested through food, but the body produces it also itself. Its tasks and effects include building cell membranes, supporting the body’s own protective mechanism, and creating energy reserves. 

Why is stearic acid used in skincare?

The nourishing stearic acid is used in skincare because it has a moisturizing effect. It also protects the skin from environmental stress and therefore has an anti-aging feature.

Is stearic acid vegan?

Stearic acid can be both, vegan and non-vegan.

Summary

Stearic acid has thickening properties that help create a luxurious feel for skin care products by removing the watery feel. Stearic acid also acts as a hydrator and skin protector.

The active substance has the ability to bind dirt with water and oil. Which makes it ideal in various skin cleansing products to remove dead skin cells, sebum, and other dirt.

Although stearic acid has versatile properties, its origin is not always vegan. For industrial use, it could be obtained from animal fats or plant oils. It could also be synthetical. 

Therefore, we recommend shopping at vegan brands to be sure that the stearic acid is vegan-friendly. When looking for vegan anti-aging skincare, check out our guide to the best options.

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.